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Proof

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It only takes a few moments into any episode of the Great British Baking Show (you have watched it, right?!) to hear the contestants explain the length of time they expect for their dough to “prove.” Some recipes even require a double proof to ensure a proper rise and each baker even has a separate proving drawer to safely place their rising creation. While it may seem like an insignificant part of baking when compared to the ratio of flour and water, the time in the oven, and the creative use of flavors, the time waiting for the dough to rise is absolutely critical. In the most refined way, Paul and Mary often explain that the doughy bite of Victorian Raised Game Pie they just enjoyed was a bit “under proved.”

The wait is an indispensable step to a glorious final product. 

Adam told me shortly after the start of this year that this word kept coming to mind as a description for this upcoming year. Proof. God would need to prove His faithfulness in the situations we would soon face. Our trust in his sovereign control over those situations would be proved as we choose to rely on His character.

He is right.

We are almost 13 years into marriage, 10 years into our current ministry, and 9 years into parenthood. On the timeline of our whole life, we find ourselves directly in the middle. The newness has worn off, but the end isn’t quite near.

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

I have been begging God for steadfastness in this season of ministry and motherhood. The majority of the time, I want to give up. I want to find an shortcut that is less painful and less tiring. I need His strength to press on, to wait, and to flourish in spite of my emptiness.

Each frustrating and difficult issue forces me to lean once again on the One who is faithful and each one is reminding me that waiting is an unavoidable step to the glorious future that awaits us as believers.

He alone is trustworthy and unchangeable even in the most shaky circumstances.

Of his never ending faithfulness, I have proof.

 

Scavenger Hunts and How Can It Be?

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It sounded like a great idea at first. We could purchase the $1 scavenger hunt map, find the interesting memorabilia displayed in the two small museums, and become experts of the history of Winter Garden, Florida. It would be a chance for family bonding and count as an educational outing for our homeschool year.

It wasn’t that simple.

The twelve treasures were located in small boxes both inside and outside the historic buildings across the downtown. Each required reading a few paragraphs of historical information, answering a question based on the reading, and stamping the map with unique labels. I mapped the locations with the gps coordinates provided and dragged the family on a wild goose chase around the city. Although my inlaws had some knowledge of Winter Garden’s history, many of the locations were almost impossible to find or missing key elements like the stamp for our map. What should have been a fifteen to twenty minute search around a museum, turned into a couple hour process.

As I waited for the waitress at the local pizza shop to find the treasure box hiding behind the menus on the hostess stand, it hit me that I was holding the maps. I had been writing in the difficult answers. And there was not a child to be found. They had found a sidewalk bench and were waiting somewhat patiently for me to finish the work.

To complete the task, we headed back to the main museum to turn in our maps in exchange for a unique Winter Garden Historical Society patch. The museum guide congratulated my three children on a job well done as he took the maps with my work written all over them.

My work had earned their reward.

As I stood outside on that gorgeous December day, I was struck with the visual illustration I had unintentionally acted out with my family.

 

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

2 Timothy 1:8-9

His work is my reward!

The task was insurmountable. Generations of humans had tried and failed. The work was complete and perfect. He “redeemed the curse of the law” and tasted the sting of death. He was victorious.

Instead of a scavenger hunt map, I turn in His record of righteousness and instead of a patch, I receive rescue from my sin and everlasting life.

As Charles Wesley so beautifully put it hundreds of years ago…

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

May my daily duties and tasks be done today with the realization that I am walking in victory through Jesus. May the amazement of His unconditional love for me be the motivation to love and serve others in my path today! How can it be?

How Long?

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When will it snow, Mommy? Can we watch a Christmas movie and drink hot chocolate tonight? Is that package for me? How many days left until we open presents?

The Christmas season is packed with expectancy. From the moment the first scent of leftover holiday cheer is release from the storage box, everyone in the home looks forward to the culmination of these joyful few weeks. Christmas is coming!

As theologically-minded parents, we have the opportunity to use that feeling of anticipation to teach our children one of the most major themes of Scripture which is the presence of God with man.

In the beginning, the Creator designed a perfect garden, with perfect foliage, perfect animals, and perfect food in which He walked in perfect relationship with Adam and Eve. That communion was tragically broken with their sinful rebellion, but the story didn’t end there. Genesis 3:15 says, I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Something was coming to resolve this curse, but it wouldn’t be as immediate as this first family may have suspected. 

The entire Old Testament traces the suspense surrounding the wait for a permanent resolution to this sin problem. God instructs his people to build the tabernacle and later the temple as dwelling places for His Presence. God’s relationship with his chosen people came at the price of sacrifice after sacrifice, year after year.

A small child may feel like the days leading up to Christmas are endless. Each seems to drag as she waits patiently for the hope promised to her. In a similar and even more significant way, Israel longed for the arrival of their Rescuer. How long would God wait to fulfill his long-standing promises?

“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.”

In His perfect, never early, never late timing, the Father set into motion the answer to His covenant with mankind.

“And the Word [Jesus] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

God himself would now tabernacle with his Creation. Jesus would be both the High Priest and the Sacrifice necessary to complete the plan set in motion in Genesis. When He returned to Heaven, he would send the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of the redeemed. The Church is now a living temple for the presence of God.

But, we’re still waiting. There’s more to come.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

What a breaktaking description of the end of the story! We live in anticipation for all to be made new. We look around at our broken world and ask, “How long?” but we can wait with hope. Just as a small child confidently knows that there will be gifts under the tree on December 25, we as believers cling to the fulfillment and resolution that is surely coming with Jesus’ return.

The celebration of Jesus’ birth is a chance for our families to wonder at the greatest Gift ever given and prepare for the final chapter of God’s story yet to come!

Immanuel, God is with us!

 

 

 

What Do You Believe?

It was a proud parent moment.

Our oldest recently competed in a Bible quizzing competition and finished with a perfect score. Some may say that it seems fitting for the pastor’s kid to win, but I saw the time he spent studying and reviewing the references and definitions. His victory had more to do with his hard work than genetics.

The danger of such Bible clubs and competitions is the temptation to memorize Scripture simply for the reward.  The beautifully inspired verses become a string of words learned in a particular order. The child knows the Book but not the Author.

It’s so incredibly important that we as parents and teachers take the extra time to explain the meaning and context behind the passages alongside memorization. Show them Jesus before moving on to the next section to master. We may be surprised at the Spirit’s conviction and encouragement in our own souls as well.

The Christian walk does require discipline, however. Giving our kids the opportunity to hide God’s Word in their sponge-like minds and tender hearts can stock their spiritual arsenal for the battles that are sure to come.

During my teen years, I participated in an intricate system our youth pastor designed for accountability in spiritual disciplines. We would record our points each week for Scripture memorization, devotions, visitation and outreach, and the occasional “bonus” activity in exchange for a variety of rewards. I and my closest friends were top earners each week leading our respective teams to victory. In my mind, reading my Bible or chatting with senior citizens on a Sunday afternoon seemed like a perfect exchange for 500 points and a pizza party the next Wednesday.

Now that I’m twenty years down the road, I have a problem with this system. There are definitely rewards for spiritual habits, but they don’t come in the form of candy bars or amusement parks. Without meaning to my youth pastor was creating a shortsightedness in his teens. The return on my spiritual investment might not come until I am forced to rely on His Word in a deep valley or unexpected storm. And when the prize does come, it will be in the form of more firmly rooted faith, unexplainable joy, or a confirmed identity.

This kind of spiritual exercise is not just for those in Bible club and youth groups though. We live in an increasingly dark culture yet our default is often to blend in by being gray — not quite dark, but not completely light either. We flounder when trials come because we have not invested in our foundation during the calm seasons. We live as pseudo-spiritual people, having the right lingo and right lifestyle, but not truly knowing the God we supposedly serve.

My husband has recently started a new sermon series entitled, “We Believe.” His underlying theme is this – what we believe will always affect our everyday living. Our love for our Savior grows in direct proportion to the time spent getting to know Him through His Word. Our love for others grows in direct proportion to our love for Jesus. It’s a constant cycle of progress and growth until we reach our final home.

Ironically, as I write this morning, I am listening to conversations of those around me at our local coffee shop. Two mommies parent a little toddler girl and another couple is discussing our new President and his controversial decisions. Their views are affecting their living. If I were sitting at the table with them, would I be able to confidently share my beliefs? Would I be able to communicate the pursuing love of of heavenly Father? Would I be able to clearly share the Book that informs my conclusions? Would I be able to support it all with a life that reflects my convictions?

May we know and memorize the Bible, not for ribbons and medals, but for the prize of Jesus himself and may our knowledge translate into lives that proclaim the unfathomable love of our all-powerful God.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it  and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
II Timothy 3:14-15


I often think I’m doing well at living what I believe. This article from a Christian-turned-atheist challenges that conclusion:

Do Christians Actually Believe What They Say They Believe?

She Reads Truth {a review}

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Even though the view was terrifying, the tremors weren’t horrible. They were just enough to jiggle us around and produce uncontrollable laughter between my sister and I.

We were at the Alaska Experience in Anchorage. We had hoped to truly experience the historic earthquake of ’64 but the technology in 1999 only produced a mild back and forth shaking of our stadium seats while we watched the crumbling city on the screen in front of us. It was far from terrifying. It was down right funny.

The farther I’ve walked through life, I’ve learned that our days are filled with tremors and earthquakes too. The difference is that few of them are humorous. Most produce real anxiety, agony, and anger in response. Even if the ground of our life is currently stable, our lives seem to be built along a fault line that can produce upheaval at anytime.

What do we cling to in a world that is shifting and trembling underneath our feet? Is there a safe place when the ground seems to be crumbling?

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Yes, there is safety, peace, and comfort found in the truth of God’s Word, but Raechel Myers & Amanda Bible Williams explain it much more beautifully than I could in their new book, She Reads Truth.

These women founded the online ministry also called She Reads Truth in the hopes of encouraging women to be reading Scripture every day. It has blossomed into community of women from all parts of the globe who dig into the Truth together each day.

While this book definitely touches on that online ministry, it focuses more specifically on the personal stories of Raechel and Amanda and how the Truth of the Bible met them in the most difficult of times.

Early in the book, in a chapter written by Amanda, I was struck by this quote:

“Trusting in God’s Truth does not mean ignoring everything else. We do not have to explain our fears away in order to earnestly believe God’s promises to us. It is not an either/or situation. It is both/and.”

My copy of the book is full of stars and underlines drawn through tears. Even though my personal “earthquakes” are very different from the authors’ life stories, I was reminded over and over of the sufficiency of God’s word in every area of my life.

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I will be returning to this book in the days and years to come. It offers hope and gentle rebuke to those who desire to be “Holding Tight to Permanent in a World that’s Passing Away.”

Disclaimer: I received one copy of She Reads Truth  for free in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.

Snickers the horse and exciting news….

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My first big writing project started in my mid-elementary years. Like most girls my age, I was extremely intrigued by anything horse-related. I devoured books on horse breeds, horse training, and horse racing. My birthday gifts for a few years included trail rides, horse calendars, and more horse books.

It was only natural that I would attempt to write a equestrian novel of my own featuring a sweet mare named Snickers. Unfortunately, I was limited by the busyness of fourth grade so I never made it past the Chapter 1 rough draft. I would have been a best-seller, of course, had I ever finished the rest of the story.

Fast forward twenty years and I find myself in a similar position. My passion has changed from horses to theology, but I still possess a love for reading and writing. Occasionally, I entertain the idea of writing a book, but the thought of composing anything longer than a blog post is intimidating to me. How does an author find enough words to fill a twelve chapter book? How could I find time to write in the middle of homeschooling, demanding church ministry, and life in general? Who would read anything I write anyway?

Last year, I wrote a post about my tendency to appear stronger that I actually am, and I quickly realized that I wanted to dig a little deeper into this topic of discovering Jesus’ perfection in my brokenness. I was able to write in the small crevices of time that this current season of life offers me and am excited to announce the completion of my very first booklet entitled, I’m Fine: discovering His completeness in my shortcomings.

im-fine-cover

What is it about? 

As indicated throughout Scripture, humans are extremely adept at convincing ourselves that by simply trying hard enough we can meet the standards held for us by God, others, and even ourselves. Nothing could be farther from the truth because, in fact, we are in our nature “not fine.” This book intends to take us on a short journey to explore the areas of our life that suffer under an “I’m fine” mentality and remind us that those very shortcomings can bring glory to the One who completed perfection on our behalf.

Who is this booklet for? 

Do you struggle with feelings of failure when your idealistic expectations are shattered again?

Do you fight pride when those around you seem to be faltering in areas you have already mastered?

Do you fall into bed each night hoping that you did enough that day to at least appear successful to others?

Do you feel like the pace of your life is currently unsustainable?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions (like I can) then I pray the words of this book will be an encouragement to you. Because I am a mom, many of my illustrations will resonate with women, but the encouragment from Scripture is intended for all believers who hope to depend on themselves less and their Savior more.

Where can I find it? 

Purchase I’m Fine on Amazon in the format that works best for you!

Print version

E-book for Kindle

Would you share? 

Many of you have friends, family, and blog readers that would really benefit from the truths in this booklet. If I could meet them all, I would ask them to meet me for coffee and discuss it with them in person. Because that’s impossible, I hope you’ll share it with them for me!

Thank you for your support and prayers here at Dishes & Doctrine. My prayer is that this new resource is a blessing to your heart as you find your completeness in our Savior!

 

Humble Roots {review and giveaway}

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In case you were wondering, I do not have a green thumb.

From pumpkins to mums, even the easy, beginner plants seem to wilt at my presence. I watch the master gardeners around me in our rural community cultivating gorgeous blooms and impressive crops of zucchini and tomato. My one attempt at green beans was accidentally weed whacked by my husband. I inadvertently forgot to tell him I was trying to grow something!

Sometimes the struggle to grow spills over into more important areas of my life. Anxiousness chokes out effectiveness in ministry and busyness uproots a flourishing family. The peace I desperately want to harvest seems as elusive as success in my horticultural endeavors.

humble-rootsa-review-giveaway

Every once in awhile I stumble across words that are beautifully written, simply profound, and poignantly honest. The new book, Humble Roots, by Hannah Anderson is full of such writing.

She submits to the reader that our struggles with worry and stress are byproducts of a heart rooted in pride. We believe the subtle lie that we can produce humility on our own by intentionally squelching the lies of our ego.  She takes us on a journey through personal stories, historical accounts, and introductions to a variety of plants and herbs as she gently points the reader to a life-altering truth. Maybe our hectic lives don’t need better planning, harder work, or more self-made remedies. Instead, the fruit of peace and rest naturally grow from humble roots pressing down into Christ.

As I read through the chapters, I underlined dozens of phrases and quotes that brought both conviction and comfort to my soul. Over and over, Hannah returns to this idea,

“Humility, then, is not simply a disposition or set of phrases. Humility is accurately understanding ourselves and our place in the world. Humility is knowing where we came from and who our people are. Humility is understanding that without God we are nothing. Without His care, without His provision, without His love, we would still be dust.”

Humble Roots offers so much wisdom and I know I will return to its pages over and over again.

I’m so incredibly excited that Moody Publishers sent me an extra copy to share with you. Enter below. U.S. residents only. Winner will be chosen on October 23, 2016 and announced on Facebook. Winner will have 48 hours to email rachel@dishesanddoctrine.com or another participant will be chosen.

Disclaimer: I received two copies of Humble Roots  for free as a part of the book launch team. The thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.

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Why brokenness matters

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One of the sad parts of full time ministry is the regular bombardment of bad news. Although, I’m rarely the first to know, I often hear stories of failed marriages, battles with cancer, struggles with sin, or even wayward children.

Brokenness is all around us. One minute into the evening news shows us the affects of sin from every part of the globe.
Unfortunately, that bad news doesn’t contain itself to other countries or even other churches. It’s readily available in our own living rooms and church pews.

So, the question has to be asked. If brokenness is so rampant, what are we supposed to do with it? Do we ignore it and put on a plastic smile? Do we take pride in it, because it makes us like everyone else? Do we simply ignore it?

Let’s take a look together at why brokenness matters in the life of the believer. 

why-brokenness-matters

  1. All brokenness brings pain. 

From medical diagnoses to adultery, the fractured pieces of our lives bring pain to both ourselves and those around us. It’s inevitable.

If a husband is diagnosed with a rare, incurable disease, his wife and children are also greatly affected.

If a wife is unfaithful to her spouse, the infection of that sin spreads to her children, extended family, friendships, etc.

The phrase “no man is an island” is particularly applicable here. Brokenness cannot stay contained to one person. Psalm 37:39 says,

“But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked”

The first failure in the Garden of  Eden had gigantic repercussions. Included in the deception of the snake was a forgetfulness of the long stretching effects of sin. Eve was only thinking about her own opportunity for greatness and Adam was only intrigued by what God might be withholding from them through His “don’t eat” rule. Neither comprehended the pain that would be brought upon thousands of generations to come after a simple bite of fruit.

          2. All brokenness brings shame 

I can still smell the musty carpet in the church nursery turned 6th grade classroom. Mrs. Cook had just left the room with a warning to keep our mouths closed and our bodies in our chairs. Usually, the teacher’s pet, I didn’t initially plan on disobeying, but my best friend really needed to know the plans for our afternoon recess. I spoke a few words as quickly and quietly as possible before our teacher appeared in the doorway.

“Who talked while I was gone?” she asked as soon as she returned. About a dozen hands sheepishly lifted into the air which earned them the current classroom consequence. My hand was not one of them.

Immediately, my heart was filled with the heaviness of shame.

I had talked. I had disobeyed. I had sinned. And I deserved the full punishment for it!

The story has several other elements including a tearful admission and apology to Mrs. Cook three days later and the most beautiful illustration of forgiveness I had experienced in my short 11 years, but I will never forget the agony of guilt that followed me after my lie.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the last time I would experience shame after sin. It attacks us immediately after any failure big or small. It comes after eating one too many brownies to losing your cool with your four year old again. It can even rear its ugly head at unintentional brokenness. We experience guilt at our failure to solve world hunger and our lack of time to bring that new mom a meal.

Our shame causes us to hide just like Adam and Eve after their disobedience. Shame feels terrible so we sew together parts of our personality and lifestyle to cover the true state of our hearts. We act strong and unaffected by our brokenness, hoping that others won’t notice. We laugh at our failures while all the time cringing inside at our lack of perfection. We shift the blame to others to minimize our own faults.

Shame leaves us feeling hopeless which is why the next point is so important.

          3. All brokenness brings hope

The effects of sin in the world and in our own hearts, bring us to the end of ourselves. Our search to find strength and resilience inside consistently comes up short leading us to look to something bigger outside of ourselves.

It won’t be found in “Inspirational Books” section of Barnes & Noble and it might not be the verse your friends quote to you when you share your shortcomings and needs at small group, but it is the answer and hope to the brokenness surrounding each one of us.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:15

In the middle of verses depicting the desperation of human nature, we find a glorious hope in these few words. Adam and Eve had messed up and were hiding in their shame (as we can so easily relate). The Serpent seemed to have gotten his way and the beautiful life of the Garden was quickly wilting. God gives a glimpse of the future when a Rescuer, a Messiah, would come to bruise Satan’s head conquering Him and ending his dominion.

The Gospel Transformation Bible sums up the hope offered in the middle of this fresh brokenness:

Though the corruptions of sin quickly infect humanity, grace is displayed for Adam’s and Eve’s descendants (“offspring” or “seed”): there is a seed despite Adam’s and Eve’s sin ; there is a means to relate to God despite sin; there is protection for a murdered despite sin; there is warning of the corruption of sin and at the same time indication of the faithfulness of God to provide the “seed” for sinners. 

In other words, there is salvation in the shattered world we experience each day through sickness, sin, and corruption. The Second Adam restores the life that was lost to Satan and offers victory and peace. While we still battle the flesh and its evil effects, we will one day reign with Him as rulers over a once again perfect Earth.

Because of this hope, don’t downplay your brokenness. Don’t hide behind the facade of independence. Don’t wallow in your shame.

Instead rest in Jesus’ perfection. Hide in His work on your behalf. Rejoice in His victory.

Wait expectantly for the day when all brokenness will be replaced with unblemished wholeness forever.

Little Bible Heroes {a giveaway}

You don’t have look at many parenting magazines or websites before you come across the strong recommendation to read to your children from a very early age. Reading can increase literacy and fluency in speech and allows for parent/child bonding. That’s the reason why my pediatrician gives books to my kids at every well-child visit.

Since I’m naturally a multitasker, I want the time I spend reading with my small children to increase not only their language skills, but their knowledge of our God. So I was super excited to discover a new kids series in the bookstore at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference which accomplishes just that.

Each book in the Little Bible Heroes series includes two stories. When the child reaches the end of the first story, they flip the book to read the other. My little girl quickly claimed Ruth & Heroes of Babylon as her book of choice. We read each story over and over again as she pointed out tiny details in the illustrations such a tiny mouse or duck that appears on each page. Although, we haven’t used them yet, each book also includes a Parent Connection in the middle of the two stories. This section would be great for children ready to answer simple questions for comprehension and discussion.

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Often building a children’s library can be expensive, but these books are very affordable. This eases my mind when pages get ripped or chewed. (Please tell me that your children are very rough on their books too!). You could eventually build a library of all of them!

Here are the books in this series:

Creation/Noah Flip-Over Book
Miriam/Daniel Flip-Over Book
Joshua/Rahab Flip-Over Book
Samuel/The Little Maid Flip-Over Book
David/Esther Flip-Over Book
Joseph/The Good Samaritan Flip-Over Book
Christmas/Easter Flip-Over Book
Jesus’ Miracles/Martha Flip-Over Book
Elijah/John the Baptist Flip-Over Book
Heroes of Babylon/Ruth Flip-Over Book
The Little Giver/Zacchaeus Flip-Over Book
Peter/Paul Flip-Over Book

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I want to help you get your own collection started, so I’m giving away one copy of the Miriam/Daniel Flip-over Book. Enter below. U.S. residents only. Winner will be chosen on August 27, 2016 and announced on Facebook. Winner will have 48 hours to email rachel@dishesanddoctrine.com or another participant will be chosen.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my review. The thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Training wheels {and why a believer doesn’t need them}

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Our family has officially fallen in love with bike riding.

From bumpy neighborhood sidewalks to secluded trails, we have been busy exploring our town on wheels this summer.

Our oldest son is quickly becoming a master cyclist and our toddler enjoys the view over my shoulders from her carrier seat. Our middle son, however, is still very dependent on his training wheels. This is not necessarily a problem for a four year old, however one of these small wheels gave us significant issues on many of our rides. The screw would loosen causing the wheel to tilt and turn resulting in his inability to balance. The poor guy wanted to ride like his older brother but was restricted by his dependence on the inconsistent third wheel. True freedom will come for him in another summer or two when he can throw away the “help” of the training wheels and balance on the two tires created for riding.

Training Wheels

I find myself often leaning on alternative “wheels” on this ride of life. Finding balance and freedom in the gospel alone seems scary. Certainly, I need something more than Christ’s work to effectively complete the trail in front of me.

So I strap on the training wheels of affirmation. If others approve of my work and support my endeavors, I will be successful. My work is only meaningful after all if others appreciate it.

I tighten the screws on the training wheels of perfection. Sure I will never be perfect enough to gain eternal favor with a holy God, but I need to get as close to flawless as possible in my everyday work. When I fail, it’s just a sign that I need to try harder next time.

I lean on the training wheels of worry. Someone needs to think through every scenario and outcome. There are so many details that could go wrong. If I can circumvent just a few of them, my ride will be smoother.

Unfortunately these wheels (along with dozens more) are just like my son’s tilting bike. They are broken and offer no true or lasting support.

Affirmation leaves me craving more and more attention from others. I act hypocritically because my actions are based on another’s opinion of me. I waste precious time in a conflicted state between slavery to others and slavery to Christ.

Perfection leaves me weary. My attempts to hide my shortcomings and to reach an unattainable ideal are exhausting and endless. My day begins with mistakes and ends with failures. I have convinced myself that if I work hard enough I will muster up my own version of holiness.

Worry wears me out too. My mind dwells on the cares of this life leading to discouragement and dismay. The beautiful goals and plans that seem to answer the worry crumble all too easily.

The truth is that as a believer, as a redeemed daughter of God, I don’t need spiritual training wheels. Anything less than the truth, love, forgiveness, and unfathomable grace found in the gospel of Jesus will not give me the support I need to finish the race.

Here’s even better news.  My son needs help learning to balance until he is physically strong enough to ride like his older brother. This is not so for the believer. At salvation we receive the glorious benefits of Christ’s work on our behalf and from that moment forward, we have the complete enabling of the Spirit. Our growth depends not on our own strength and fortitude, but on our increased dependence on the unchanging truths of the gospel.

I can receive disapproving comments from others because I stand approved eternally before my Father.

I can fail on a daily basis because the ultimate work has been completed perfectly for me in Christ’s death and resurrection.

I can cast all my cares on Him because He cared enough to rescue my dead soul for His glory.

Friends, take off your spiritual training wheels (they will never stand up to the task anyway), and lean on the everlasting, all-powerful work of the Savior. You will enjoy the ride so much more if you do!